Pabst Brewing Company

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Pabst Brewing Company
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
FoundersJacob Best
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, USA
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Pabst Brewing Company
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
FoundersJacob Best
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, USA

The Pabst Brewing Company is an American company that dates its origins to a brewing company founded in 1844 by Jacob Best and by 1889 named after Frederick Pabst. It is currently the holding company contracting for the brewing of over two dozen brands of beer and malt liquor from defunct companies including Ballantine Brewing Company, G. Heileman Brewing Company, Lone Star Brewing Company, Pearl Brewing Company, Piels Bros., National Brewing Company, Olympia Brewing Company, Primo Brewing & Malting Company, Rainier Brewing Company, F & M Schaefer Brewing Company, Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company and Stroh Brewery Company.[1]

The company is also responsible for the brewing of Ice Man Malt Liquor, St. Ides High Gravity Malt Liquor, and retail versions of beers from McSorley's Old Ale House and Southampton Publick House (of Southampton, New York).[1]

Pabst is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.[2][3] On September 18, 2014, Eugene Kashper, an American beer entrepreneur backed by TSG Consumer Partners, announced an agreement to acquire Pabst Brewing Company from C. Dean Metropoulos & Co for $700 million.[4]



The original brewery was founded in 1844 as The Empire Brewery, later Best and Company, by brewer Jacob Best. The brewery was run by Jacob, Sr. and his sons Phillip, Charles, Jacob, Jr., and Lorenz; Phillip took control of the company in 1860.[5] They started the brewery on Chestnut Street Hill in Milwaukee with a capacity of 18 barrels (2.9 m3). Later, in 1863, Frederick Pabst, a steamship captain and son-in-law of Phillip Best, bought a share in Phillip Best Brewing Co., by which time the brewery was already selling a lager that they began bottling in 1875 under the name Best Select. By 1874 Phillip Best Brewing Co. was the nation's largest brewer.[6] In 1866, Bests other daughter Lisette married Emil Schandein, and Best sold the remaining half of the business to her husband, making Frederick Pabst president, and her husband vice-president.[7][8] Schandein unexpectedly died in Germany and Lisette Schandein took over as vice-president of the company which she remained until 1894.

During Prohibition, Pabst stopped making beer and switched to cheese production, selling more than 8 million pounds of Pabst-ett cheese. When Prohibition ended, the company went back to selling beer, and the cheese line was sold to Kraft.[9]

Pabst was renowned in Milwaukee for its brewery tours. Visitors to Pabst's tour were rewarded with sometimes bottomless glasses of beer at its end-of-tour Sternewirt Pub. Complete with a statue of Captain Frederick Pabst and waitresses pouring from pitchers of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pabst Bock, and Andeker, the pub was popular with both tourists and locals, especially students from nearby Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.[10][11] Pabst's sales reached a peak of 15.6 million barrels in 1978 and then went into steep decline.[6]

Kalmanovitz era[edit]

The former Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Paul Kalmanovitz, a "self-made beer and real-estate baron," purchased the Pabst Brewing company in 1985 for $63 million in a hostile takeover through the auspices of his holding company S&P Co.;[12][13] S&P's first brewery was Maier Brewing Company, purchased in 1958.[12] When Kalmanovitz died in 1987 S&P Co. became legally inseparable from the Kalmanovitz Charitable Trust.[12] S&P Company was ordered by the IRS to sell the Pabst Brewing Company by 2005 or lose its not-for-profit, tax-free status. After a while, PBC claimed that they were unable to find a buyer at market value and requested an extension until 2010 that the IRS granted.[citation needed]

In 1996, Pabst's entire beer production was contracted out to Stroh Brewery Company's La Crosse, Wisconsin brewery, and the historic Pabst brewery was closed.[6] Pabst was no longer brewed in Milwaukee after 152 years, and the company had become a virtual brewer.[6] In 1999, Pabst purchased the Stroh label,[14] and the brewery in La Crosse was sold to City Brewing Company.[15] In 2001, production was contracted to Miller Brewing Company, and by then what remained of the Pabst company operated out of San Antonio.[13]

In 2006, CEO Brian Kovalchuk resigned and the board replaced him with Kevin Kotecki. Kotecki swiftly moved the Pabst Brewing Company and its roughly 100 headquarters personnel to Woodridge, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. The offices in Woodridge were located on historic US Route 66.[citation needed]

Between 2005 and 2010, "PBR brand volume increased 69 percent [and Pabst's] gross margins increased 48 percent, operating profit rose 81 percent, and net revenue per barrel increased 28 percent."[16]

Metropoulos era[edit]

On May 26, 2010, investor C. Dean Metropoulos reached a deal to purchase Pabst for about $250 million.[17] On May 14, 2011, it was announced that Pabst would be relocating to Los Angeles, California.[2]

Pabst retains a data center in San Antonio, Texas, the previous location of its headquarters. Pabst's long obsolete brewery complex in Milwaukee has been targeted to be developed into restaurants, entertainment venues, stores, housing and offices. The $317 million project is the subject of much debate in Milwaukee.[18] On May 28, 2008 a former Pabst Brewery in Newark, New Jersey, which was in the process of being demolished, caught fire and was seriously damaged.[19]

Pabst Brewing Company won "Large Brewing Company of the Year" at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011 and 2012.[20]

On September 18, 2014, Eugene Kashper, an American beer entrepreneur backed by TSG Consumer Partners, announced an agreement to acquire Pabst Brewing Company from C. Dean Metropoulos & Co for $700 million.[21]

Outside of the United States[edit]

Pabst Blue Ribbon America has a licensing agreement and joint venture arrangement with China Pabst Blue Ribbon. It is produced, marketed and distributed by CBR Brewing Company, which jointly owns the company along with Guangdong Blue Ribbon Group under a sub-licensing agreement with the Pabst Brewing Company. CBR is a British Virgin Islands owned company but it is based in Hong Kong.[22][23][24] China Pabst recently released a new beer called Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844 for consumption in the domestic market; it sells for 44 U.S. dollars a bottle.[25]

Product lines[edit]

Pabst Blue Ribbon[edit]

Main article: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon, also known as "PBR", is the namesake of the Pabst Brewing Company products. Originally called Best Select, and then Pabst Select, the current name came from the blue ribbons that were tied around the bottle neck, a practice that ran from 1882 until 1916 due to a silk shortage during WW1. It was once again tied around the bottles after prohibition from 1933 until 1950.

Jacob Best[edit]

Jacob Best Pilsner is a pale lager named after Pabst's founder, Jacob Best.


Schlitz was first brewed by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Schlitz was one of the world's top-selling beers during the first half of the 20th Century.[26] Pabst Brewing Company also produces four Schlitz malt liquors—Schlitz Red Bull, Schlitz Bull Ice, Schlitz High Gravity, and Schlitz Malt Liquor.[1]

Old Milwaukee[edit]

Main article: Old Milwaukee

Old Milwaukee is a pale lager. It was first brewed in 1890 by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was later reintroduced in 1955 as a value priced beer.

Colt 45[edit]

Main article: Colt 45 (malt liquor)

Colt 45 is a brand of malt liquor first produced in 1963 by the National Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. Colt 45 was named after running back #45 Jerry Hill of the 1963 Baltimore Colts.

St. Ides[edit]

Main article: St. Ides

St. Ides is a brand of malt liquor first launched by the McKenzie River Corporation in 1987. St. Ides gained prominence during the late 1980s and early 1990s through the use of celebrity endorsements by rap artists. Ice Cube, 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Scarface, The Notorious B.I.G., and Method Man & Redman were a few of the rappers who endorsed the brand.


The Stroh Brewery Company in Detroit, Michigan first brewed Stroh's beer in 1850. Stroh's is an American-style lager.

Old Style[edit]

Old Style was first brewed in 1902 by the G. Heileman Brewing Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin under the name Old Style Lager; it was popular in Wisconsin, the Chicago metro area, Minnesota, eastern Iowa, Lincoln, Nebraska, southwestern Michigan, Upper Michigan, and Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota. The original Heileman's Old Style brewery in La Crosse is now owned by the City Brewing Company. It brews La Crosse Lager, which is based upon the original Old Style recipe and is kräusened for 30 days. This beer may also be the basis for the brewery's nationally-distributed DB Hobbs brand.[27]

In the early 1990s, Chicago-born actor Dennis Farina made a series of commercials for Old Style beer, mentioning that it was "our great beer... and they can't have it."[28] Old Style is prominently featured on the Showtime Original series Shameless, as well as referenced in the song "End of the Night" by ska-swing band the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and drunk by Peggy and Don in Mad Men S7/E7, "Waterloo", as they watch the July 20, 1969 lunar landing.

Lone Star[edit]

Lone Star was first brewed by Lone Star Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas. It was Lone Star Brewing Company's main brand and marketed as "The National Beer of Texas."


The Olympia Brewing Company in Tumwater, Washington first brewed Olympia beer. Olympia is an American-style pale lager.

Rainier Beer[edit]

Rainier Beer was first brewed in Seattle, Washington by the Rainier Brewing Company. It is popular in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Schmidt Beer[edit]

Schmidt Beer was first brewed by the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1855. It is popular throughout the Upper Midwest.

National Bohemian[edit]

Main article: National Bohemian

National Bohemian, also known as "Natty Boh" or simply "Boh" was the flagship beer of the National Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a Bohemian-style American beer. Ninety percent of National Bohemian sales are in the Baltimore area.[29]

Former brands[edit]

Red, White and Blue[edit]

Main article: Red White & Blue Beer

Red White & Blue was a brand of beer produced and sold by Pabst from before Prohibition until the mid-1980s. Pre-Prohibition advertisements lauded its "mellow" taste and drinkability. After years of average sales, the brand saw significant growth in the early 1980s due to creative marketing campaigns. However, Pabst reformulated it to reduce costs and by the mid-1980s it was known as a "cheap beer". Sales steeply declined and the brand was discontinued.


Awards at the Great American Beer Festival:

1990SilverAmerican LagerPabst Blue Ribbon
1990SilverMalt LiquorOlde English 800
1991GoldAmerican LagerPearl Lager Beer
1991GoldAmerican Malt LiquorOlde English 800
1992GoldAmerican Malt LiquorOlde English 800
1992SilverAmerican LagerHamm's
1992SilverAmerican Dry LagerOlympia Dry
1993GoldAmerican Dry LagerOlympia Dry
1993BronzeMixed/Non-AlcoholicPabst NA
1994GoldAmerican Light LagerPabst Genuine Draft Light
1994GoldAmerican Malt LiquorOlde English 800
1994SilverAmerican Dry LagerOlympia Dry
1995GoldAmerican Light LagerPabst Genuine Draft Light
1995GoldAmerican Malt LiquorOlde English 800
1995GoldAmerican Specialty LagerOlympia Dry
1996GoldAmerican Light LagerPabst Genuine Draft Light
1996SilverAmerican LagerPabst Blue Ribbon
1997GoldAmerican Style Specialty LagerOlde English 800
1997GoldNon-Alcoholic Malt BeveragesPabst NA
1998GoldNon-Alcoholic Malt BeveragesPabst NA
1998SilverAmerican Style Light LagerPabst Genuine Draft Light
2000SilverNon-Alcoholic Malt BeveragesPabst NA
2003GoldAmerican Style Light LagerOld Style Light
2003GoldAmerican Style LagerOld Milwaukee
2003SilverAmerican Style LagerRainier
2003BronzeAmerican Style Light LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2003BronzeAmerican Lager/Ale or Cream AleOld Style
2004GoldNon-Alcoholic Malt BeverageOld Milwaukee NA
2004GoldAmerican Style Light LagerRainier Light
2004GoldAmerican Style LagerOld Milwaukee
2004SilverAmerican Lager/Ale or Cream AleSpecial Export
2004SilverAmerican Style Light LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2004SilverAmerican Style Specialty LagerSchlitz Malt Liquor
2004BronzeAmerican Style LagerSchlitz
2004BronzeAmerican Style Premium LagerPabst Blue Ribbon
2004BronzeAmerican Style Specialty LagerSt. Ides Malt Liquor
2005GoldAmerican Style Premium LagerPabst Blue Ribbon
2005GoldAmerican Style LagerStag
2005GoldAmerican Style Light LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2005SilverAmerican Style Premium LagerOlympia
2005SilverAmerican Style LagerRainier
2005BronzeAmerican Cream Ale or LagerSpecial Export
2006GoldAmerican Style LagerPabst Blue Ribbon
2006GoldAmerican Style Light LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2006SilverAmerican Cream Ale or LagerLone Star
2006BronzeAmerican Style LagerBlatz
2007GoldAmerican-Style Cream Ale or LagerLone Star
2007GoldAmerican Style Light LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2007SilverAmerican Style Light LagerPabst Blue Ribbon Light
2007SilverAmerican-Style Cream Ale or LagerOld Style
2008GoldAmerican Style Cream Ale or LagerLone Star
2008GoldAmerican Style Lager or Premium LagerOlympia
2008SilverAmerican Style Light LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2008SilverAmerican Style Lager or Premium LagerBlatz
2010SilverAmerican Style Lager or Light LagerOld Milwaukee
2010SilverAmerican Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or LagerRainier
2010BronzeAmerican Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or LagerOld Style
2011GoldAmerican-Style Lager, Light Lager or Premium LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2011BronzeAmerican-Style Lager, Light Lager or Premium LagerPabst Blue Ribbon Light
2011SilverAmerican Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or LagerRainier
2011BronzeAmerican Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or LagerOld Style
2012GoldAmerican-Style Lager, Light Lager or Premium LagerPabst Blue Ribbon
2012SilverAmerican Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or LagerOld Style

Awards at the World Beer Cup:

1996GoldAmerican Style Malt LiquorOlde English 800
1996SilverAmerican Style Malt LiquorSchlitz Malt Liquor
1996BronzeAmerican Style Malt LiquorCountry Club Malt Liquor
1996BronzeAmerican Style Ice LagerSchlitz Ice
1998GoldAmerican Style Malt LiquorSchlitz Malt Liquor
2006GoldAmerican Style Premium LagerPabst Blue Ribbon
2006GoldAmerican Cream Ale or LagerOld Style
2008GoldAmerican-Style Cream Ale or LagerSpecial Export
2008GoldAmerican-Style Light LagerOld Milwaukee Light
2008SilverAmerican-Style Cream Ale or LagerLone Star
2008SilverAmerican-Style Light LagerLone Star Light
2010GoldAmerican-Style LagerOlympia
2010SilverAmerican-Style Cream Ale or LagerOld Style
2010SilverAmerican-Style LagerNational Bohemian
2010BronzeAmerican-Style Cream Ale or LagerLone Star
2010BronzeAmerican-Style Specialty LagerColt 45

Golden Icon Awards by Travolta Family Entertainment:

2006–2007Golden IconBest Domestic BeerOld Style Light



  1. ^ a b c Our Portfolio from the company's website
  2. ^ a b Li, Shan. "Pabst headquarters moving to Los Angeles." Los Angeles Times. May 14, 2011.
  3. ^ Contact from the company's website
  4. ^
  5. ^ A History of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Breweries
  6. ^ a b c d "Shuttered Pabst Brewery Brims With History." by Gretchen Ehlke The Los Angeles Times, December 19, 2004
  7. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. J.T. White. 1893. p. 294. 
  8. ^
  9. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Fowler, Brenda. "WHAT'S DOING IN; Milwaukee." The New York Times, June 4, 1995.
  11. ^ Platt, Jeff. "Milwaukee Beer History." Suds, Wine & Spirits, 2006.
  12. ^ a b c The Family Jewels, a September 20, 1995 article from SF Weekly
  13. ^ a b Rob Walker (June 22, 2003). "The Marketing of No Marketing". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  14. ^ Patricia Zacharias & Vivian B. Baulch (December 29, 1998). "Detroiters and their beers". Detroit News-Michigan History ( 
  15. ^ History[dead link]
  16. ^ "Former Pabst execs bitter about shift in philosophy under new owners" by Julie Wernau. The Chicago Tribune, June 04, 2011 [1]
  17. ^ Lattman, Peter; Kesmodel, David (26 May 2010). "Pabst's New Owner Built Fortune on Old Brands". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  18. ^ Daykin, Tom (2005–2007). "PabstCity's glass half empty?". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  19. ^ New Jersey. "Firefighters battle blaze at former Newark brewery". Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  20. ^ GABF Winners from the festival's website
  21. ^
  22. ^ Sittig, marshall (1995). Guide to China Business Contacts: Companies, Places, and Markets. 
  23. ^ Hoover's Masterlist of Major U.S. Companies 1998-1999. 1998. 
  24. ^ Miller, Russell (2000). Doing Business in Newly Privatized Markets: Global Opportunities and Challenges. 
  25. ^ Time. July 21, 2010 |url= missing title (help). 
  26. ^ "Schlitz returns, drums up nostalgic drinkers". Gannett Co. Inc. August 1, 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  27. ^ Kroger: Great Meals - Wine - House Wines.
  28. ^ 1991 Old Style Commercials, (retrieved 22 July 2013)
  29. ^ "National Bohemian beer to be served on draft again". Retrieved 7 July 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]